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Corporate sustainability has certainly shifted from being an unobtainable buzzword of the past to become a more mainstream practice commonly adopted by many organisations.

And as we grow to embrace more ‘green’ ways of doing things to reduce our impact on the environment, there is growing pressure on organisations to step up and make sustainability a priority and a part of everyday operations.

And it’s not just for the sake of corporate social responsibility either.

Why organisations are forming sustainability partnerships

In the decades passed an organisation’s corporate social responsibility generally pertained to its charitable efforts, with little consideration given to a company’s sustainability efforts.

However consumers are now wanting more transparency from organisations when it comes to corporate sustainability. A study of 20,000 consumers across five countries found that more than 20% of consumers would actively choose brands if they made their sustainability credentials clearer on their packaging and marketing.

Still, the benefits of driving sustainable initiatives in the workplace can do a lot more than hike up the corporate social responsibility stakes and reduce the carbon footprint.

Organisations can save money by becoming more sustainable and it’s not just a luxury reserved for top tier companies, either. SMEs and start-ups are quickly finding affordable ways to be more sustainable and are driving innovation in the process.

By analysing systems and processes to find a better, more sustainable way of doing things, they are innovating along the way and in some cases, taking new products or services to market and wedging the divide between them and their competitors.

But it doesn’t just stop with the one brand.

Multi-national organisations, chain stores and SMEs and of all shapes and sizes are looking to form sustainability partnerships to further evolve their sustainability models. Through these clever collaborations they can achieve greater sustainability milestones, drive innovation, differentiate from their competitors, adopt best practice, and in most cases save money.

Corporate sustainability partnerships that worked

You don’t have to look far to find a number of big, familiar names collaborating on sustainability initiatives.

Cleanaway and Petbarn

Cleanaway and Petbarn stores across Australia collaborated in hopes the pet store chain could become more sustainable through better recycling processes.

Cleanaway conducted an extensive audit across 30 Petbarn Australia stores and discovered the only waste that was being properly recycled was cardboard. One of the main findings discovered the need to recycle wet and dry dog food and meats like kangaroo, lamb and beef.

A new organics stream was developed to divert the meat to a plan in Sydney that converts it into green energy and an innovative bi-product in the form of a nutrient rich fertilizer.

In the 12 months that followed, Petbarn’s volume of recycled wasted increased from 57 tonnes to 82.9 tonnes resulting in a total recycling rate of 44.6 per cent.

Coles, Replas, and the RED program

In 2010, grocery giant Coles partnered with the Replas and the RED program in a bid to tackle the amount of unwanted green reusable bags in the community.

In an Australian first, they launched a green bag recycling initiative where people were encouraged to return the bags to their local store.

Those bags were then sent to Replas and turned into outdoor furniture which was then donated to 100 schools around Australia.

Finding a sustainability partner

When it comes to finding a suitable organisation to partner with and help reach your corporate sustainability goals, it’s important to get a few of the foundations right to ensure the relationship is a long and prosperous one.

Here are three quick things to consider:

  • Have a problem-focused approach: Ensure that the initiative you’re driving is centred around a problem or solution rather than a stakeholder-led approach. It’s imperative that the organisation you partner with shares the same type of values.

  • Empower the people: Unlike other projects, a great sustainability project should be embodied by a group of professionals who are passionate about the cause. Having a team who are like brand ambassadors will give the partnership drive and soul.

  • Be flexible: When it comes to goals and outcomes, be prepared to be flexible and embrace the process of onboarding corporate sustainability measures for what it is. Sometimes the twists and turns will lead to further innovation and the goal posts might shift accordingly.

Sustainability will be an important measure of success for workplaces of the future. Download our Green Office Guide to learn how to improve your environmental impact, while also reducing business costs and boosting efficiency.